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Hunter Dozier drives in three as Royals down Astros

Jul 6, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA; Kansas City Royals left fielder Andrew Benintendi (16) steals second base against Houston Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena (3) in the first inning at Minute Maid Park. Mandatory Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports

Hunter Dozier clubbed a two-run home run and added an RBI double before a quartet of relievers helped the visiting Kansas City Royals fend off the Houston Astros 7-4 on Wednesday.

Dozier was one of three Royals to smack home runs off Cristian Javier (6-4). The Astros right-hander gave up five runs in five innings after pitching brilliantly in each of his previous two starts.

Whit Merrifield fired the opening salvo against Javier, socking his fourth home run to left-center field on a 1-1 fastball leading off the game. Javier walked the next batter, and after two strikeouts, Dozier belted his ninth home run of the season.

Emmanuel Rivera extended the Royals’ lead to 4-0 with his sixth home run, a one-out shot in the second inning. Dozier answered an RBI double from Houston’s Jake Meyers in the bottom of the second with his two-out run-scoring double in the third.

The Astros, who rallied from early deficits to win the previous two games in the four-game series, pulled within 5-3 when Meyers followed a run-scoring single by Kyle Tucker with an RBI groundout in the fourth.

When Aledmys Diaz chased Royals starter Brad Keller with a two-out solo homer in the sixth, Houston got within 5-4. Keller (4-9) allowed four runs on five hits and three walks with three strikeouts.

Royals reliever Jose Cuas escaped a bases-loaded jam in the sixth, preserving the one-run lead by getting Mauricio Dubon to ground into an inning-ending forceout. Dylan Coleman, Taylor Clarke and Scott Barlow followed by allowing a total of one hit over three scoreless innings. Barlow earned his 13th save.

Andrew Benintendi and MJ Melendez produced RBI singles in the ninth off Houston’s Hector Neris to provide Barlow breathing room in the bottom half of that frame. Benintendi and Dozier recorded two hits apiece, and Benintendi scored three runs.

Javier, who allowed one run, one hit and one walk while posting 27 strikeouts over his previous two starts and 14 innings, allowed four hits and three walks while striking out seven.

–Field Level Media